I went head to head with Brett Favre Thursday night, in the heart of Minnesota. Attendance at the meeting was eerily devoid of dads, who apparently were more interested in the opening of the NFL season than sending their 5th and 6th graders to Australia. Still, we had a good 125 people in the audience, and I kept things compact, yet complete, to keep their attention while still laying out the opportunity.
When it comes to audiences, it can be tough to compete with everything else they have going on, be it a football game, a bad day, thoughts of a long drive home, or any number of a million thoughts that could be distracting. Our job as speakers is first to focus them, second to keep them engaged, third - get them to act.
My tactics were simple:
A. Started in an Australian accent again, then humorously admitted my Iowa roots.
B. Encouraged them to shake off the day and see themselves in Australia next summer.
C. Gave them specific things to look for in the history video we show.
D. Kept things moving at a quick pace - elementary student audiences aren't much for patience.
E. Told a humorous story at the close, leaving a clear call to action without belaboring the point.
Even if you're giving roughly the same presentation every time, keep the fact that your audience isn't the same every time in your mind. Be prepared to handle them differently, giving them your message wrapped in a package they'll be able to handle, and most likely to open!
Overall I was happy with the night. The audience kept their energy, all the information I needed to impart was given, and we finished a bit early - in time for them to get their kids home and ready for the next school day, and hear their husbands grumbling about the Vikings falling just short. Well, you can't win 'em all!